By Anna Aldridge
Many of us who work in communications and marketing are familiar with the work of Edelman. For 20 years, Edelman, a globally-recognized communications firm has studied trust, a foundation for successful business. To provide useful and relevant content to our members, IABC/Calgary invited Megan Spoore, general manager of Edelman Calgary and a strong communicator with 14 years of industry experience. Her presentation explored three pulse surveys completed by Edelman this year, specifically looking at trust and the coronavirus.
Why does trust matter? Trusted companies do better. Edelman’s first survey in March, accumulating responses from 10,000 participants in 10 countries, found that 65% of Canadians expect that their employers can provide reliable information about the virus. Predictably, the survey reported that a significant portion (56%) of Canadians consume news daily, or at least several times a day. We have a need to be informed; around the global pandemic, this need has only compounded. Business has a critical role in being a trustworthy source of information, especially considering the rise in fake news and false information.
Edelman’s second pulse survey was completed this summer, in August. The survey was positioned to examine workplace trust and the coronavirus. From surveying 3,400+ individuals, Edelman found that no clear authority could be established for providing information on our safe return to work. However, 70% of those surveyed indicated that they were confident in their ability to work remotely. The survey revealed that employers are considered just as trustworthy to communicate about the virus compared to even health officials and the government. Would you take a government-approved free vaccine against COVID-19? 65% of those surveyed would. But the remaining 35% said no, or that they weren’t sure. Whose role is it to build trust? What steps can we as communicators take to do so?
On Nov. 12, Edelman’s most recent survey was put out. This one with 8,000 respondents from eight countries was targeted towards brands amidst crisis. We are seeing a shift in values as a result of the pandemic. There is more concern with our health, and what the future may hold. We value brands that seem to care more for people than for making profits. We don’t necessarily want brands to push us towards spending and going to businesses when restrictions are lifted. Public health has become more important to us. 80% of respondents felt that brands can solve societal and personal issues, and 55% responded that brands are easier to motivate into action than government.
What do people want? Authenticity. It’s more than promises; action matters more than ever. We want to see brands that take steps to protect employees, customers, and the community. Communicators need to be smart, and recognize how values are changing. It might not be the best time to make a big deal about the holidays. What’s more important is building relationships, and relationships are built on trust.